Jerry Lee Lewis

The Session

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The Session was done in London in 1972, at the tail-end of the vogue for recording '50s rock & roll and blues stars with backup by a younger generation of British rock musicians. Although it wasn't a highlight of Lewis' career, it was actually, as hard as it might be to believe, his only album to reach the Top 40, also yielding a single that stopped just short of the Top 40 in his remake of Stick McGhee's "Drinkin' Wine, Spo-Dee-O-Dee." It wasn't exactly Eric Clapton, Ringo Starr, and members of the Rolling Stones backing Lewis, it was more a rotating assortment of rockers a little shy of the U.K. A-team, including Rory Gallagher, Peter Frampton, Albert Lee, Alvin Lee, Kenney Jones, Gary Wright, Matthew Fisher of Procol Harum, and Klaus Voormann. As for the record itself, which was a return to his rock & roll roots after a few years on which he'd concentrated on country music, it wasn't bad, lacking only when directly compared to his early classic rock & roll recordings. Lewis' singing and piano playing are undiminished, and the band backs him competently on a program dominated by '50s oldies remakes. There's also some more contemporary material, though, including Creedence Clearwater Revival's "Bad Moon Rising" and a country-rockish take on Gordon Lightfoot's "Early Morning Rain" that might be the album's most interesting cut, if only because it doesn't sound as much like he's just retreading old glories. The problem is that if you're familiar with Lewis' Sun era, this can't help but come off as rather unnecessary, and inferior to his older rock & roll recordings, particularly on the inevitable remake of "Whole Lot of Shakin' Goin' On."

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